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Monkeypox: CDC's HIV/AIDS Prevention Director to Help Oversee Response

Robert Fenton and Demetre Daskalakis

(CNN) -- President Joe Biden on Tuesday formally named Robert Fenton as the White House's national monkeypox response coordinator.

Fenton, a regional Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator who oversees Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada, will coordinate the federal government's response to the outbreak, while Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, will serve as the deputy coordinator.

"Fenton and Daskalakis will lead the Administration's strategy and operations to combat the current monkeypox outbreak, including equitably increasing the availability of tests, vaccinations and treatments," the White House said in a statement announcing the team.

The first US monkeypox case in this outbreak was confirmed May 17, and the virus has spread rapidly to reach more than 5,800 probable or confirmed cases, nearly all of them in men who have sex with men. Getting the outbreak under control has been a challenge for the CDC and the Biden administration.

As CNN previously reported, testing for monkeypox, a crucial part of containing the growing outbreak, has gotten off to a slow start at the five commercial laboratories that have nearly all the US' monkeypox testing capacity.

The World Health Organization last month declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern. But so far, monkeypox has not been declared a federal public health emergency in the US, with American health officials having said the US is still assessing the situation.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House Covid coordinator, recently told reporters that the WHO's declaration "will allow the United States and other partners to better collaborate, to share data and to get critical information out to high-risk communities."

US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement last month that the US was "determined to accelerate our response in the days ahead."

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